War veterans have reacted angrily to reports the Last Post was played by Qantas aircraft maintenance engineers at an industrial stopwork meeting last week.
Qantas has confirmed engineers taking part in a one-minute strike as part of a pay dispute played the haunting tune over a public announcement system at a heavy maintenance facility at Tullamarine in Melbourne on Friday morning.
The airline has described the act as a "new low" in the union’s campaign after it last week instructed two right-handed aircraft maintenance workers to use their left hands to perform their work.
Qantas spokesman Luke Enright said the company would launch an investigation into how the Last Post was played on the PA and to find the people responsible.
A caller to radio station 3AW said many Qantas staff were shocked by the decision to play the Last Post at the conclusion of the stopwork action.
Victorian President of the Returned and Services League, Major General David McLachlan AO, said he would write a letter to the union to express his outrage over the incident.
He said the families of the 28 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan would be horrified to know that the tune - traditionally played at soldiers' funerals and remembrance ceremonies - had been used insensitively as part of an industrial campaign.
He said people who had recently lost a family member at war would still have the tune "ringing in their ears".
"Just think of all those grieving families ... to hear it [was] played as an industrial song is just dreadful," Major General McLachlan told 3AW. "Please respect the Last Post because it means so much to so many people."
The union has imposed a range of work bans and limitations as negotiations with Qantas management over a new enterprise agreement heat up.
Steve Purvinas, the federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, said he could not confirm or deny whether the Last Post had been played at Tullamarine.
Mr Purvinas, who was not at Tullamarine, said he had contacted a number of workers who were rostered on to work at the facility on Friday.
"I'm yet to speak to a [union] member who heard it," he said.
Asked whether he could rule it out, Mr Purvanis said he could not.